Friday, May 13, 2011

I'm Here to Win

I'm Here to Win: A World Champion's Advice for Peak Performance by Chris McCormack with Tim Vandehey was a book I both looked forward to and dreaded reading. As some of you know, I think that Chris “Macca” McCormack is somewhat of a blowhard and a braggart. He’s won numerous times at a variety of triathlon distances, but he’s always rubbed me the wrong way. There’s confident and there’s cocky – Macca is the latter. I’m not big on trashtalking – Macca admits it’s part of his preparations for racing. All in all, a guy who could be a role model instead turns me off. This book was read by me in hopes that he would change my mind.

Hachette Book Group:

"As the winner of the 2010 Hawaii Ironman Championship, Chris "Macca" McCormack may be the world's greatest athlete.

In I'M HERE TO WIN, McCormack shares his story along  with training tips and practical advice to help readers develop their own routines, diet, exercise programs and race strategies.

Chris McCormack has dedicated his life to training for-- and winning-- the Ironman Hawaii, one of the most grueling tests of mental and physical endurance in the world. The race challenges athletes to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run a full marathon, 26.2 miles, all  while battling harsh conditions and their own willpower.

In 2010, McCormack won the Hawaiian Ironman Championship for the second time  at 37 years old-- a testament to his fitness and endurance.  Macca's  journey to athletic greatness is more than just one of physical perseverance. After coming in fourth in Hawaii last year, Macca returned to the island chanting, "I'm Here To Win!" He had a new mental game plan in place that brought him first across the finish line. In his much-anticipated book, Macca shares his playbook and reveals everything it takes-- mind, body, and spirit-- to become a champion.

In addition to his Hawaii Ironman wins, Macca holds the record for the most triathlon race wins ever and it's his winning strategies and mindset that he now brings to the reader  in I'M HERE TO WIN.

For weekend warriors who casually compete to seasoned veterans who race every weekend, armchair athletes looking for an extra push and everyone in between, I'M HERE TO WIN provides riveting insight into the mind of a great champion with excitement and inspiration on every page.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chris McCormack "Macca" was born in Sydney, Australia on April 4, 1973. He won titles and awards for his participation in sports during his school years, but initially chose education over a pro sports career and became an accountant after graduating from the University of New South Wales. He began competing professionally in 1996, and most recently, won the 2010 Ironman World Championship in Honolulu."

Nothing in the book made me change my impression of Macca. He seems totally self-absorbed and takes credit for pretty much everything, begrudgingly doling out small increments of thanks to some people. I get this is a biography, and most elite athletes are pretty full of themselves, but no one can do it alone, and I guess I most appreciate those that really point out all the supporters that make their career possible.

One of the things he is most proud of is the fact that he has always done things counter to accepted thought or practice. As a contrarian myself, I would admire this, if it wasn't part of his "mental game...highlighting the fears and insecurities in other athletes." Once again, he just comes across looking somewhat like a jerk.

There's also a strange dichotomy to his writing. In one chapter he will pointing out to the Australian Triathlon Federation how wrong they were by leaving him off the Olympic Squad. Several chapters later he states that he never shoved his success in anybody's face, not even Triathlon Australia. ??? Even his efforts to improve his image are contradicted by him saying that people thought he was trying to be nicer even though he was crushing opponents, winning everything in sight while playing his mental games.

A big part of this lies with me. I have never been particularly competitive and really am not at this stage of my life. Macca is a professional athlete and working with what he has. As he mentions, at the elite level, the physical differences between competitors is infitesmal, so the mental edge was where he played his cards. He didn't mind being the bad guy, the bully, if it meant he won races. It'll be interesting to see how he feels 10 or 15 years from now, when he reflects on his career. I wonder how he'd react if his daughters were either trash-talking their opponents or were the brunt of the trash-talk?

Anything positive to say?

I don't want it to seem like I'm completely down on this book. Sprinkled in the nearly nonstop self-congratulatory pats on his back, Macca has some really insightful strategies to share regarding training, racing, and educating yourself about the sport. They alone are worth reading this book, in spite of the blustering bravado.

Something I hadn't noticed before, but Macca points out in the book, is that he always has the number 19455 either on his apparel or written on his body for every race. The significance? His mother lived for 19,455 days, before succumbing to cancer. He then took that number, 19455, multiplied it by 140.6 (the distance of a long course triathlon), and came up with $2,735,373, the amount he decided to raise for breast cancer. Really a nice gesture.

This book can be ordered through

Disclaimer: This product was advanced to me for review purposes, courtesy of Hachette Book Group via Net Galley. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give it a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website.

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  1. He has my exact birthday.

    Good review...even if it isn't necessarily a "good" review.

  2. Yeah, kind of a d*ck, but I do like the devotion to his mom and his little formula.

    The title of this post was misleading. I thought it was going to be a battle-it-out with Chris K. about my giveaway. See? I am like Macca. It's all about me.

  3. I am such a dork for reading anything running/biking, etc that I'm sure I'd love it. Just gets me motivated

  4. There are Humble Pie kind of people and then Self Absorbed kind of people.

    Although we probably wouldn't want to hange around MACCA, his personality has made him who he is and a HUMBLE PIE Macca probably wouldn't win.

    He adds spice to what can be pretty boring sport, so for that, I actually like his persona..

  5. Macca cracks me up most of the time! I like what Bob said above.

    This book arrived in the mail a couple of days ago and I am a few chapters in right now. I'll put up my review when I finish!

  6. I’m glad I read this review as I have a feeling I would feel like you do. Won’t waste any time with this book soon.

  7. ok so I need to read up on my tri peeps. I had no idea who this guy was. But if SUAR says he's a "D" I'm backin it.

  8. I think you know me well enough to know that elitist arrogance annoys the sh*t out of me. But for some reason I would be prepared to give Macca a pass first before say a LeBron James, David Beckham or Roger Clemens, though I'm not sure why.

    And you might find this behavior universal, at least in our endurance sports world. Look at Lance Armstrong, for example. Maybe we protect our own.

  9. One of the things I've always admired about Lance is that even though he knows he's the shit, he has always pointed out all the people who make what he did possible, from his mom to the soigneurs, domestiques, and doctors. That's what I don't get from Macca and some others.

  10. Interesting. Good post Kovas. Here's my take. One of my favorite tenets in life is, "Surrender to being the type of person you are". I'm not seeing that gives someone the right to be a jerk, but I've never experienced Macca to be a jerk, just very confident. I've heard quite a few interviews with him The competitors podcast. He is living his truth. And, it is obviously working for him.

  11. I like your book reviews - the hell on 2 wheels race sounds insane! Simply being able to finish that race would be amazing, much less win it, haha

    I've watched some triathlon coverage, but not very much recently - seems like the man is extremely confident =) When you get to the elite level that these guys are at, I think you need to use every angle that you can get against your opponents. If that means always being cocky so that your opponents back down in times of crisis, maybe that angle works.

    Kevin Garnett might be a good example - he talks trash nonstop. And sometimes this trash talk works - opponents might get psyched out and not play up to their potential. Also, Michael Jordan is probably the most cocky guy on the planet (did you watch his hall of fame induction speech?), but he is also the greatest basketball player of all time.

    Not sure what exactly I'm trying to say here, only that their are multiple ways to act when you are at the top of your sport. While I favor the nice guy attitude (Meb Keblizghi for example), cocky guys also have the right to compete for titles too.

  12. I hadn't ever heard of this fellow, but I have not ventured very far into the world of Ironman. Interesting to know a bit about him and quite a moving gesture for his mum.

  13. Anyone who whines about being left off of a national team squad just needs to shut up. I am sorry... but I lived that life surrounded by people who did that and I just cannot stomach it. Yes, sometimes someone super good who would really, really help the team gets 'dissed', but that's the way the cookie crumbles. What's that expression... harden the fuck up?

    I, too, often admire that sort of contrarian mindset... having succeeded at my old sport of choice at a very high level following that, but based on your review he sounds like what you call him... a jerk. Possibly an entertaining jerk?

    I might just need to read this book so I can be reminded of how glad I am to no longer be an elite athlete!!!!

    I enjoyed this review immensely.

  14. Am I going insane or did you post this yesterday? I look at your blog - no post for Thursday, though....


  15. I totally get this difference between confident and cocky. Cocky is such a turn off. I think that is one of the reasons I was so impressed with Kara Goucher...she has every reason to be cocky but she was nothing but genuine and warm and definitely not full of herself. Btw, when blogger went down, so did all my comments and that giveaway so you'll have to enter again if you really want a chance to win. Sorry.

  16. Oh man, I posted an awesome comment on this post last week.

  17. Good review. I've found this to be the case with Lance Armstrong. The only people he really gave credit to in his book were his doctors. The rest was about how amazing he was. I just enjoyed the inside story of the Tour.

  18. Oh man, that might be the best, most honest review I've ever read!!! I've never been anything close to an elite athlete, but some of them seem to have a different way than the rest of us. I'll have to check out this book - at least to chuckle at the arrogance.

  19. I use to think Macca was a bit of a braggart... okay, perhaps he is, but he can certainly back up all of his trash talking. Like Dave Scott, Macca is really the Michael Jordan of his sport. He has won everything on every level. I have heard from many people that he is very generous with his time "off the lava field" and makes time to answer age groupers—I am sure can only be described as—incessant whining.

    He's an interesting cat... even in losses, he thinks he did not perform up to his potential, rather than acknowledging someone else was better than him on that day. That takes some balls.


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